Herding animals in the Libyan desert may not seem like most conducive occupation for an aspiring musician, but for Bombino it proved particularly formative.
"The time that I spent in Libya with the animals was a very lonely time for me but a very useful time, also," the 33-year-old guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader, who was born Goumar Almoctar in Niger and fled to Algeria during the 1990 Taureg Rebellion, said via e.mail. "I would play the guitar for hours and hours every day by myself.
"I think this is when I became a real professional on the guitar. I learned to play the guitar just by watching and listening to the great guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Ali Farka Toure and Mark Knopfler. I would just experiment on the guitar until I figured it out and I would play and play and play.
"For me I was already learning the blues as I was learning the guitar so I did not need to learn it after learning the guitar, it happened all at once."
Bombino -- who got his nickname while playing with Taureg guitarist Haja Bebe -- has released three albums, and his latest, "Nomad," brought him to Nashville to work with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's World Music chart and the iTunes World Chart, landing Bombino spots at Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival as well as an opening slot for Robert Plant.
"Working with Dan was a very big experience for me and my group," Bombino, who does not speak English. "He is a real genius and a great producer. He is equally a great guy. He was able to create a very relaxed environment even though for us it was our first time in a real professional recording studio and we could not speak the same language has him as well as other challenges.
"But Dan was very cool and knew how to create the right energy in the studio for the best music to come out."
Bombino and Kenny Tudrick perform Sunday, Nov. 24, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.
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